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Sonny Perdue
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue
31st United States Secretary of Agriculture
Assumed office
April 25, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byTom Vilsack
81st Governor of Georgia
In office
January 13, 2003 – January 10, 2011
LieutenantMark Taylor
Casey Cagle
Preceded byRoy Barnes
Succeeded byNathan Deal
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 18th district
In office
January 9, 1991 – January 9, 2002
Preceded byEd Barker
Succeeded byRoss Tolleson
Personal details
George Ervin Perdue III

(1946-12-20) December 20, 1946 (age 74)
Perry, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (Before 1998)
Republican (1998–present)
Spouse(s)Mary Ruff
EducationUniversity of Georgia (BS, DVM)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Years of service1971–1974
RankUS military captain's rank.gif Captain

George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III[1] (born December 20, 1946) is an American politician. He is the 31st and current United States Secretary of Agriculture since April 25, 2017. He served as the 81st Governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011. Upon his inauguration in January 2003, he became the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.

Perdue serves on the Governors’ Council of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C..

On January 18, 2017, incoming U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Perdue to be United States Secretary of Agriculture. His nomination was transmitted to the Senate on March 9, 2017.[2] He was approved by the United States senate with a vote of 87-11 on April 24, 2017.

Early life

Perdue was born in Perry, Georgia. He is the son of Ophie Viola (Holt), a teacher, and George Ervin Perdue Jr., a farmer.[3][4]

Perdue played quarterback at Warner Robins High School. He studied at the University of Georgia.[5]

In 1971, Perdue earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and worked as a veterinarian before becoming a small business owner, eventually starting three small businesses.[6]

Perdue served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain before his discharge.

Georgia State Senator (1991–2002)

After serving as a member of the Houston County Planning & Zoning Commission in the 1980s, Perdue ran for a seat in the Georgia General Assembly.[6] He defeated Republican candidate Ned Sanders in 1990 and succeeded Democratic incumbent Ed Barker as the Senator representing the 18th district.[7]

Perdue was elected in 1991, 1994, and 1996, serving as his party's leader in the Senate, from 1994 to 1997, and as president pro tempore.[8]

Perdue switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1998 and was re-elected to the Senate as a Republican. He also won re-election in 2000.

Governor of Georgia (2003–2011)

In December 2001, Perdue resigned as State Senator so he could run for the office of Governor. He won the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election, defeating Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes, 51% to 46%, with Libertarian candidate Garrett Michael Hayes taking 2% of the vote.[9] He became the first Republican governor of Georgia in over 130 years since Benjamin F. Conley.

As governor, Perdue led reforms designed to cut waste in government, most notably the sale of surplus vehicles and real estate.[10] He helped Georgia moved up from last place in the country in SAT scores. Although it returned to last place in 2005,[11] Georgia rose to 49th place in 2006 in the combined math and reading mean score, including the writing portion added to the test that year.[12] Perdue also created additional opportunities for charter schools and private schools.[13] In 2006, Perdue signed a law that gave Georgia "some of the nation's toughest measures against illegal immigration".[14]

In 2006, Perdue was re-elected to a second term in the 2006 Georgia gubernatorial election, winning nearly 58% of the vote. His Democratic opponent was Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor. Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes was also on the ballot.[15]

2007 prayer for rain

On November 13, 2007, while Georgia suffered from one of the worst droughts in several decades, Perdue led a group of several hundred people in a prayer on the steps of the state Capitol. Perdue addressed the crowd, saying "We’ve come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm" and "God, we need you; we need rain".[16]

United States Secretary of Agriculture (2017–present)

On January 2, 2017, it was reported that Perdue had emerged as President-elect Donald Trump's leading contender for the nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture in his incoming administration.[17] On January 18, 2017, senior Trump transition officials announced that Perdue would be his nominee as Secretary of Agriculture.[18]

The Senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved his nomination on March 30, with a 19-1 vote. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) abstained, as he is the nominee's first cousin. His nomination will receive the full senate vote on April 24.[19]

Perdue is the second Secretary of Agriculture from the Deep South. The first was Mike Espy of Mississippi, who served under President Bill Clinton from January 1993 to December 1994.

On April 24, 2017, Perdue's nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate with a 87-11 vote.[20] He was sworn-in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas the next day.[21]

Perdue was chosen Designated survivor for the 2018 State of the Union Address.[22]

Personal life

Perdue and his wife, Mary (nee Ruff), were married in 1972 after dating for four years.[23] They have four children (Leigh, Lara, Jim, and Dan),[23] fourteen grandchildren (six boys and eight girls), and have also been foster parents for many children.[24] Perdue lives in Bonaire, Georgia.[25]


  1. "Inscoe, John C., New Georgia Encyclopedia entry on Sonny Perdue, University of Georgia, 2/6/2004". 
  2. "Congressional Record". 
  3. "Sonny Perdue (b. 1946)". 2016-08-25. Retrieved 2016-12-29. 
  4. "Ancestry of Sonny Perdue". Retrieved 2016-12-29. 
  5. James Salzer, Greg Bluestein and Shannon McCaffrey (January 19, 2017). Trump taps Perdue as agriculture chief. Atlanta Journal Constitution. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "National Governors Association: Sonny Perdue". 
  7. "Our Campaigns - GA Senate 18 Race - Nov 06, 1990". 
  8. Charles S. Bullock, III, The Georgia Political Almanac, The General Assembly 1993–94
  9. "Official Results of the November 5, 2002 General Election". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  10. "Bipartisan Policy: Sonny Perdue". 
  11. Johnny Jackson (August 30, 2005). Georgia SAT scores in the basement. Clayton News Daily. 
  12. "Georgia climbs in SAT rankings despite drop in score". AccessWDUN. August 29, 2006. 
  13. Bill Crane (January 2011). Georgia View: Sonny Perdue's Non-Legacy. GeorgiaTrend. 
  14. "Georgia Enacts a Tough Law on Immigrants". Associated Press (New York Times). April 18, 2006. 
  15. "Georgia Election Results". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  16. Greg Bluestein (January 10, 2017). That time Sonny Perdue prayed for rain. Atlanta Journal Constitution. 
  17. Steve Holland, [1], Reuters @ MSN (January 2, 2017).
  18. "Former Georgia governor tapped as Trump's agriculture secretary, sources say". 
  19. "Majority Leader Schedules Vote for Perdue April 24". 
  20. "U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote PN90". Retrieved 24 April 2017. 
  21. "Sonny Perdue Sworn in as 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture". USDA Press. April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  22.,+The Washington Times. "Sonny Perdue ‘designated survivor’ for State of the Union" (in en-US). The Washington Times. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Sandra D. Deal, Jennifer W. Dickey, Catherine M. Lewis. Memories of the Mansion: The Story of Georgia’s Governor’s Mansion. 
  24. Perdue's wife takes up cause. Athens Banner-Herald. March 1, 2003. 
  25. "Agriculture secretary pick Perdue led big political change in Georgia". Star Tribune. January 25, 2017. 

Other websites

Media related to Sonny Perdue at Wikimedia Commons